Short answer – no. Carrots may not give you the ability to see in the dark, however the news is not all bad – turns out carrots are great for your overall eye health!
Why is this?
Carrots contain many of the important vitamins and compounds that protect eyes and vision:
An antioxidant that’s been nicknamed “the eye vitamin,” lutein protects both the eyes and skin. This anti-inflammatory, carotenoid phytonutrient is found in foods like leafy green vegetables, egg yolks, citrus fruits and orange veggies. Once consumed, it’s transported around the body, especially to the parts of the eyes called the macula and the lens. Researchers at Harvard University have found that supplementing with six milligrams daily of lutein can lower the risk for macular degeneration by an average of 43 percent, proving “the eye vitamin” lives up to its name.
There are more than 600 different types of carotenoids found in nature, but only about 20 make their way into the eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the most important since they’re delivered in the highest quantities into the eyes’ delicate macula. Just like lutein, zeaxanthin helps protect the eye’s tissue, lens and macula, which clears vision and prevents glare, light sensitivity or disorders like cataracts.
Vitamin A (Beta Carotene)
According to a report by the Journal of the American Medical Association of Opthamaology, we need to obtain adequate vitamin A to prevent xerophthalmia and night blindness, particularly if we’re low in other key nutrients. The best thing is is that 100 g of carrot contains over 100% of an adults recommended daily intact of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an antioxidant and has been shown to prevent loss of vision caused by degenerative conditions, such as cataract and macular degeneration. Studies also show that vitamin A with other antioxidants helps slow the progression of neuropathy (nerve damage) — including diabetic neuropathy — in the eyes caused by diabetes.
The antioxidant vitamin C does more than just fight colds — it also helps protect your vision by fighting free radicals and helping you absorb more trace minerals and nutrients in general. Studies show many Americans are deficient in this crucial vitamin that helps repair damaged tissue, slows down inflammatory responses, prevents cellular mutations and much more.
One long-term study also found that among 3,000 adults (ages 43 to 86), cataracts was 60 percent less common among people who reported using multivitamins with both vitamin E or vitamin C.
Vitamin E, vitamin A and vitamin C work together to keep cells and tissue strong and protected from the effects of inflammation. These fat-soluble antioxidants decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration, plus consuming plenty vitamin E and vitamin A together has been shown to improve healing and vision in people undergoing laser eye surgery.
Certain studies have found people have about a 25 percent lower risk of developing advanced stages of macular degeneration when consuming at least 400 international units of vitamin E daily, especially when taken with vitamin A (as beta-carotene), vitamin C and zinc. One 2008 study involving 35,000 adults found those with the highest levels of lutein and vitamin E had a significantly lower relative risk of cataracts than those with lower intakes.
Studies have found that zinc in combination with other vitamins helps protect the retina and lower risk for macular degeneration. Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for helping with nutrient absorption (it’s involved in over 100 metabolic processes) and allowing for proper waste elimination, which fights inflammation and cellular damage.
Zinc benefits tissues within the eyes because it plays a crucial role in proper cell division and cell growth, maintaining healthy circulation, balancing hormones that prevent autoimmune reactions, and controlling inflammatory cytokines that attack tissue. The human body does not synthesize the zinc it needs, so we need to obtain enough from sources like fish, grass-fed meat, organ meats and nuts.
As well as carrots there are lots of other foods that are great for eye health. For example:
- Leafy green vegies
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)
- Citrus fruits
- Sweet potatoes
- Green beans
- Nuts and seeds
- Wild-caught seafood, omega-3 foods and high-zinc foods.
If you feel like your eyes may need a little more help than a couple of servings of carrots, click here to find your local optometrist on Eldernet.